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Drew Carter Returns to Newhouse to Give Advice to Students

The Orange alum was the play by play man during the Syracuse vs Liberty broadcast.

Just hours shy of announcing the Syracuse Orange vs Liberty football game Friday night, SU alum and ESPN Sports Broadcaster Drew Carter returned to Newhouse for some words of wisdom. Carter gave a room full of students exclusive insight on how he reached success so quickly, in such a competitive industry and credits the ACC Network (ACCN) for providing a strong foundation for television.

“I grew more as a person than I did as a broadcaster in my first 2 years out of school and I think you’ll all probably find that as well,” Carter said.

After graduating from SU, Carter accepted a position as a Sports Reporter for CBS 42 in Birmingham, Al. Carter covered college football for CBS 42 and warned students when you enter the professional industry, the stakes are higher and there is more pressure to produce quality programming for the audience you are serving.

“It is hard when you are going right out of school into a market like that and a lot of people are watching,” Carter said. “For us, we were the CBS affiliate in Birmingham, Al...We had a lot of eyeballs, so that took a while to get used to, but I would say it was worth it.”

After spending roughly two years in Birmingham, Carter recently accepted a position as a Play-by-Play Broadcaster for ESPN, last month. Working for CBS provided Carter with the opportunity to cover over 3 hours of sports every Saturday and enhance his portfolio.

“I think some people were pretty dubious of hiring me right out of school because they wanted someone with some more experience in the real world and I think they were proven right at the start, but as we settled in, things became more normal,” Carter said.

Like most recent college graduates, developing the confidence within yourself to work alongside professional athletes and work past your own fears was part of Carter’s journey to growth as an individual and a professional.

“Another milestone was when I asked Nick Saban my first question, which was the most nervous I have ever been for anything in my entire life and I could literally see my heart pounding, inside my chest and I mumbled the question and he couldn’t hear!” Carter said. “I thought I was about to be a meme basically, I thought I was about to be a video on Twitter that had millions and millions of views.”

Despite fearing that social media would exasperate a mistake, Carter said he learned a valuable lesson from the experience.

“Now that I look back on it, that actually was kind of like a milestone,” Carter said. “It’s like, I can ask Nick Saban a question and it’s OK, I’m a professional now.”

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Carter revealed the common misconception that many students believe during their time at SU is that mistakes and malfunctions do not happen on the professional level. But, they do and it is up to individuals to accept mishaps and improve in the future.

“One of my mantras in broadcasting is ‘Sweat the small stuff, until you’re driving yourself insane,” Carter said. “Anyone can go on TV and say, “Oh yea, I think the Packers are going to win this week, but going deeper and attention to detail, that stuff really matters.”

While many Broadcast & Digital Journalism students at SU who get caught up in trying to perfect their on-air opportunities for demo reels to pair with job applications, Carter encourages students to remember the reason for all on-air content.

“It’s easy to get into that head space, but the more you can leave that and start to think what can I do to enhance the experience for the audience today, then it’s going to be better and naturally, through osmosis, your reel is going to look better because people can tell that you actually care about what you’re talking about, as opposed to making yourself look good,” Carter said.

Thinking ahead about what the audience wants to hear is an essential question to keep in mind as a play-by-play announcer. Listeners want to feel as though whoever is announcing the play-by-play is speaking directly to them. Voice of the Orange and class of ‘97 SU graduate Matt Park helped mentor Carter throughout his undergraduate career at SU and hosted Carter’s conversation with students today.

“What sets Drew apart and the reason Drew made it pretty far, pretty quickly here and what sets the best of our students apart is their maturity, personality, comfort on camera,” Park said.

Drew Carter and Matt Park at Newhouse

Drew Carter and Matt Park at Newhouse

Together, Carter and Park stressed to audience members that finding your voice as not only a sports broadcaster, but as a TV personality will help employers select you as opposed to the other talent. 

“It’s about storytelling and command and having a presence and the people who have that, that is the difference maker and Drew has that, not everybody does,” Park said.

When asked about who Carter admires in the sports broadcasting industry, in addition to Park, Carter credits Jason Benetti, Ian Eagle and Mike Tirico for paving the way for sportscasters to have the opportunities to share their knowledge of the industry with viewers and fans all over the world.

“If you think of your personality like a painting, you’ve got colors from all of your different mentors and you need it to be your own painting at the end of the day,” Carter said. “So, you’ve got a stroke here from Benetti, a stroke here from Ian and a stroke here from Tirico, but at the end of the day, the painting has my name on it.”